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Maryland creating 'strike teams' to help nursing homes battle coronavirus

Governor Larry Hogan said these teams are the first of their kind in the country.

MARYLAND, USA — As more nursing homes report coronavirus cases, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is taking extra steps to help them. The governor introduced "strike teams" to send medical professionals to the "overburdened" facilities.

As of Tuesday, Hogan said 90 nursing homes and long-term care centers had positive cases of COVID-19.

Multiple have reported deaths, like Pleasant View in Mt. Airy, where the Carroll County Health Department said 17 residents have died as of Tuesday.

One of those residents was retired D.C. firefighter Gary Holmberg. 

"Nobody really understands how it feels to lose a loved one until you do," Holmberg's daughter, Tracy Shevell, said. 

RELATED: 'I held his hand and told him I love him' | Grieving family remembers dad who died after leaving MD nursing home

Residents inside these infected facilities are also worried for their own safety, like 72-year-old Doris Larmore, who lives in Larkin Chase Center in Bowie. The facility has reported five positive cases so far.

"I'm not feeling good about it, and I wish there was something I could do to get out of here," Larmore said.

RELATED: 'I'm not feeling good about it' | Hear from a patient inside a nursing home with positive COVID cases

Credit: WUSA9
Dozens of residents at Pleasant View nursing home test positive for COVID-19

Hogan's strike teams unite the National Guard, state and local health departments, as well as local doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses, to help the centers on-site.

"We’re the first state in the nation to launch such a coordinate response effort," Hogan said in a press conference Tuesday.

The governor said there will be three types of strike teams:

  1. Testing
  2. Assistance
  3. Clinical

Per his order, testing teams will collect and send samples for testing and investigate points of contact. The National Guard will lead assistance teams to determine what PPE facilities need and triage residents. Clinical teams will be comprised of medical professionals who can care for patients on-site, so they don't have to go to the already crowded hospitals.

The Montgomery County Health Department said Wednesday that they have been doing their own version of strike teams for the last two weeks.

"We certainly welcome any additional resources that the state can provide, and we think it’s a good way to be able to provide an extra layer of support for some of our most vulnerable population," Dr. Travis Gayles, Montgomery County Health Officer, said. 

Hogan said nursing homes and local health departments requested this help, so they are doing their best to respond.

RELATED: Gov. Hogan enacts emergency order to protect nursing home residents, staff during coronavirus

RELATED: Maryland nursing home confirms 17 resident deaths, 112 coronavirus cases

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